How will non-Muslims get justice if they can’t be in the Shariah Court? Interfaith panel asks

Source: The Malay Mail Online

M. Indira Gandhi is pictured at the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya, December 30, 2015. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

M. Indira Gandhi is pictured at the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya, December 30, 2015. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — Today’s Court of Appeal deferment to the Shariah Court in M. Indira Gandhi’s case effectively means non-Muslims are left in legal limbo when challenging unilateral conversions of their children to Islam, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) said today.

MCCBCHST vice-president Jagir Singh criticised the Court of Appeal’s majority ruling today, where the civil court’s judges said only the Shariah courts can decide on the religious status of a Hindu mother’s children who were unilaterally converted by their Muslim convert parent.

“By pushing conversion cases to the Shariah courts the Court of Appeal appears to have abdicated its duty. It is akin to say, yes, you have a right but have no remedy,” the MCCBCHST immediate past president told Malay Mail Online when contacted for comments.

Jagir, who is also a lawyer, questioned how a Shariah Court, which only has jurisdiction over Muslims, can dispense justice to non-Muslims.

“About 20 years ago, it was the civil court who were hearing all conversion cases. This was correctly so as the Shariah court have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims and non-Muslims cannot appear as witnesses in a Shariah Court.

“Therefore, how is a Shariah court going to administer justice as it will not have the evidence of the non-Muslim parties involved in the case?” he asked.

Jagir said the Court of Appeal’s ruling today will not solve the predicaments faced by the spouse that had not converted to Islam, such as Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi in today’s case. Read more